Are you an RBSD guy? Are you a TMA guy? Are you an NHB or MMA guy — that is, a sportfighter? Are you a boxing guy or a wrestling guy or an ethnic stylist? Are you a CMA guy, an RMA guy, an FMA guy?
What kind of guy are you?
The alphabet soup of acronyms I’ve used corresponds to camps within the self-defense and martial sports communities. Reality Based Self-Defense is one camp. Traditional Martial Art is another. Sportfighting is a third. All have their ways of doing things and all believe themselves to be right. Some are more insecure than others and thus place more emphasis on “proving” to others how tough their practitioners are — or, more accurately, how tough they believe themselves to be.
There are poor curricula within all spheres of combat training and combat athleticism. The precise natures of these failings in methodology and content vary from sphere to sphere. There are many good RBSD schools, but there are some whose training is largely bravado and over-reliance on a few supposedly lethal moves. There are many good TMA schools, but there are many more devoted exclusively to low-and no-contact “fighting” whose students fold at the first show of resistance. There are plenty of good sportfighting schools, but there are many more whose teachers fail to keep their curricula in perspective — thus falsely leading their students to believe they are training for self-defense rather than sports.
People are political by nature. They also tend to flee cognitive dissonance — the discomfort created when we are confronted with data that refutes what we want to believe. Most people in martial communities, be they sport or applied self-defense venues, are very eager to categorize everyone else. In this way they more easily dismiss those with whom we disagree. Few of us are immune to this tendency,
As an objectivist and a martialist, I’m not interested in following a party line or a school of thought. I want, in the most demanding Tom Cruise to Jack Nicholson shriek, the truth. I do not dismiss anything out of hand simply because of its source. I believe in maintaining an active (not “open”) mind — meaning that I will evaluate anything fairly, but I will evaluate everything critically. Critical thinking is what separates human beings from other animals. At least, it should.
This approach has infuriated many and actually cost me the good will of some people I previously considered friends. By daring to consider everything on its merits while never flinching from reality, I crossed boundaries within the elaborate set of Venn diagrams representing the ideological platforms on which the martial community rests.
A few members of the RBSD and combatives crowd consider me a heretic and an apologist for traditional martial arts because I find value in some TMAs (and in components of others). Some TMA stylists consider me a hopelessly paranoid RBSD lunatic because I understand the utility of weapons and because I believe in fighting unfairly. Certain testosterone-soaked segments of the sportfighting community consider me either an “RBSD guy” or a “TMA guy” — they can’t seem to come to consensus on it — and either way I must be a weakling who practices “unproven” techniques without contact and at low speed.
What all of these malcontents have in common is the fact that I enrage them. I anger them because I do not agree — but I infuriate them because I do not care what they think. I am beholden to no one and no one does my thinking for me. I will not let polity, piety, or popularity dictate my self-defense curriculum.
I am a student of one traditional and one contemporary martial art who recognizes no rules and refuses no methods while seeking success in realistic self-defense. I’ve trained full contact and I’ve trained for theory. I’ve carried a gun and I’ve carried a knife. I’ve seen bad schools and I’ve seen good schools. I’ve written at length about the good, the bad, and the bizarre.
What I’m not is an “RBSD guy,” a “TMA guy,” a sportfighter, or an apologist.
I’m a martialist.
This is not about me, however. This is about what I hope for you. I want you to approach everything with an active mind. I want you to consider context. I want you to keep what you see and what you experience in perspective. Don’t be an RBSD guy; be a martialist. Don’t be a sportfighter; be a realist. Don’t be a TMA student; be a student of self-defense. How you get to these goals is up to you, but think while you travel there. Use your mind and refuse to choose a camp.
What kind of guy (or gal) are you?
What kind of man or woman would you like to be?